dealing with mental illness, trying to dispel stigma
About 30 years ago I was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety, fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and PTSD (I'm a survivor of domestic violence). Just like everyone else, there is so much more to me than those labels. I'm a wife, mother, grandmother, and sister. Baking bread, jewelry design, writing, and drawing are my creative outlets. Chocolate is my kryptonite.
The clothes are flying out of the closet, tears are pouring out of my eyes, foul language is spewing out of my mouth. The self-disgust is so palpable, it’s oozing out of my pores. One more week until I visit my brother, and I have not lost enough weight to fit into my “nice” clothes. But wait, think about the fact that my idea of “clothes fitting” may be different than yours. Oh yes, my clothes fit just fine, but oh shit now you can see the outline of the belt loop on my jeans. I can feel the sleeve of my shirt on my skin. These are really horrific things to me, honestly. Do you know how difficult it is for me to say this? Do you understand what it’s like to have people say to you “There’s nothing wrong with your body.” when you know damn well it’s the most disgusting thing on the planet?
There are so many examples of strong, confident women all over the internet who have no fucks to give about what you think about their bodies. Instead of being inspired by these women, my brain uses them to remind me of yet another failure of mine – my inability to love myself. Now, not only do I abhor the way I look, I have disdain for that attitude and my inability to change. I’m angry that I don’t do enough to lose weight, and I’m angry that I can’t just let it go. The most shameful thing about this is that the definition of “fat” which I apply to myself is not even close to what I see in the body positivity world.
That’s the same shame that said to me “At least you have no broken bones.” when my husband abused me.
That’s the same shame that says to me “At least you don’t have cancer (or anything else ‘worse’).” when my bipolar disorder flares up.
Every time I start to open up to the possibility of letting go of my impossible standards, I become certain that once I do that I am admitting defeat.
Life was not meant to be lived like this, I’m certain. Food should not be something I judge, weigh, and measure before I’ll be able to eat it. Simple enjoyment should be at the top of the list of considerations. Actually, the only consideration should be if something would pose an immediate and serious danger if it were to be consumed.
Here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt made from words that pour out of my heart. Be comforted with the knowledge that you are not alone with whatever you feel. Burrow beneath the warmth from the surety that others have survived what you are experiencing.
Since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned that there are people all over the world that are very different from me yet we have shared experiences. The simple “Yes, me too!” comment is my favorite. After so many years of being told I’m crazy, stupid, or wrong, it’s comforting to know that there is at least one other person that knows exactly what I’m talking about.
So here, wrap yourself in my yesmetoo quilt whenever you need it.
At 3 AM, she burst into my brain like a prizefighter after the first bell. She’s usually there every damn day, and I’d gotten used to her almost constant harangues about my faults and failures. Yesterday I managed to shove her out for a while. But, man, she was angry – who the hell do I think I am, posting a picture of my smiling face and giving the impression that I’ve got my shit together despite battling with bipolar disorder. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I had the audacity to actually think it was a pretty picture of myself.
She moved in shortly after I escaped from my domestic violence situation. In the absence of an abuser, the abused becomes adept at picking up the slack. Until I met another person who actually hears voices, I didn’t realize I did this to myself. I mean, come on, the things I tell myself…never would I say them to another person. Nobody deserves to be screamed at, torn down, belittled, discouraged, or beaten. So just stop, you might say. Sheri, you wouldn’t talk to anyone else like this, why not accord yourself the same respect? But I can tell you, after a lifetime of this crap it’s hard to fight back.
Somedays I think it’s too late for me, after decades of this I just can’t see it ending.
I see you
I hear you
I’ve felt what you feel
I’ve slogged through the same muck, climbed the same boulders
I’ve been scared (still am at times)
I’ve come through safe, albeit dirty and battered
I will hold the light for you
I will hold your hand
Let me help you come out of the dark